6. Which publications on the Internet are considered scientific?

The Internet continues to grow daily in part because anyone with access to the right equipment can create a web page. These web pages are rarely filtered, often making it difficult to determine the content's accuracy.
For these reasons, it is essential to review each page carefully before using it for research purposes. The following guidelines may be useful in evaluating web resources.

 

  • Check whether the information is still current. When was the site originally available on the web? When was site last updated or revised? If you cannot find a date on the page, check the properties of the page. How often is the site updated? Do the links on the site work?

     

  • Determining the author or source of information for a web site is important in deciding whether information has credibility. The author should show some evidence of being knowledgeable, reliable, and honest.
    • Is the author identifiable? Look for links that say "Who We Are", "About This Site" or something similar. Is there contact information for the author? (e.g. e-mail address, mailing address or phone number).
    • What is the author's background? (e.g. experience, credentials, occupation) Has he/she written other publications on the topic?)
    • Does the author cite his or her sources?
    • Do links on this site lead to other reputable sites?

     

  • The dependability of a web site is important if it is going to be cited as a source in other works or recommended for use by others. Do most of the links on the page work?

     

  • The purpose of the site is important. Is it educational, commercial, promotional, etc.? Occasionally, web sites pretending to be objective have a hidden agenda and may be trying to persuade, promote, or sell something. Is the site trying to sell you something? How easy is it to differentiate advertisement from content? Do you perceive the information as being factual, opinion, propaganda, etc.? Who is the intended audience and how is this reflected in the organization and presentation of the site?

     

  • It is important to look what the coverage is. Is a site comprehensive and have facts been (deliberately) omitted? Does the site cover a specific time period or aspect of the topic or does it cover the topic in depth? What information is omitted? Is the page completed or "under construction"?.

     

  • Is the site professional looking, well designed and well organized? Can you easily read the text? Do the used images contribute to the functionality?

Please note that a (very limited) selection of relevant Internet resources has been made on the library web pages.


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